It has been a wonderful week, jam-packed with fun, friends and food (which I’ll get to in this post, I promise). One of the highlights included hosting Steve and Susan Vinton, founders of Village School International, while they were here in the Boston area. Back in 2008 I taught with Village Schools and lived in the little village of Sawala, Tanzania. My husband and I returned there in 2012, for a short visit.
As I reminisced with Steve and Susan, I was reminded of the rich hospitality displayed in Tanzanian culture, particularly around food. Following is a blog post I wrote ten years ago (!) while living in Sawala:
A Snapshot of Life in TZ
This morning (Sunday) I was too lazy to start a fire and make breakfast. I opted instead to take a three-minute walk up the road to Mama Shemaya’s duka (roadside shop) where I thought I might be able to buy a cup of chai (tea) and mandazi (fried bread). I set out, Starbucks travel mug in hand, planning to be back to the house within a few minutes. Unfortunately, Mama Shemaya had no tea and no mandazi. I decided to walk a bit further in hopes of finding breakfast somewhere else. Soon I ran into one of my students, Tatu, on the road. She saw the Starbucks travel mug I was carrying and asked where I was going. When I explained my situation, she adamantly exclaimed, “I will make tea for you. Go, get mandazi and when you return, come to my house.” A polite decline wasn’t happening, so I promised to return with mandazi for both of us to share over chai at her house.
Shortly after saying goodbye to Tatu, I came to a mama selling soup on the side of the road. A few minutes later I found myself sitting in her living room slurping soup. After finishing and thanking this mama, I continued on my journey and came to Mama Henry’s house, where she was selling mandazi. But simply buying mandazi and leaving was not an option. Mama Henry gave me a big hug and invited me into her home. I tried “my level best” (as they often say around here) to communicate in Swahili to Mama Henry that I was happy to see her but couldn’t stay because I needed to return to my student’s home. She wouldn’t hear of it. After a short visit I purchased two pieces of mandazi; Mama Henry gave me three pieces. I thanked her and was on my way.
I finally arrived at Tatu’s “ghetto” (rented room where she and another student live) where she, her roommate and I talked and enjoyed tea and mandazi together. I couldn’t help but notice the 2004 calendar that hung on the wall as a decoration. When I was ready to leave, Tatu made sure my travel mug was filled with tea to take home. She and Mainess then “escorted” me on my walk home. I arrived back at the house around 9:30am. My three-minute jaunt up the road had turned into an hour and a half excursion. The level of hospitality in this culture never ceases to amaze me!
It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed from this time. One thing, I’m sure, has not changed: the continual sense of welcome that is displayed in everyone you meet. No need to “schedule” a visit; just drop by. A simple “hodi” (May I come in?) will always be followed by, “Karibu!” (You are welcome!)
I long to create this sense of welcome in my home, too. There’s nothing like a cup of hot soup on a rainy day to do the trick…
This week I found two delicious gems:
- Mel over at A Virtual Vegan will make your taste buds dance with her simple, tasty, nutrient dense recipe for Creamy Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup. I’ve used this recipe on numerous occasions and I’m delighted every time. The only changes I made were adding garlic, because it’s so darn good for you!
- Kristi Barnes, who blogs at Farmstead Chick, offers this healthy and lip-smacking good Whole 30 version of Zuppa Toscana. My one recommendation? Use Butcher Box Breakfast Sausage. It doesn’t get any better and you KNOW the meat is humanely raised with no antibiotics or hormones.
Give these recipes a try and be sure to let me know what you think!